The Fused Silica product line represents less than 3% of Vesuvius' continuing revenue. Revenue of £42 million represented a 46% decrease compared with 2011.
For glass tempering rollers and other speciality products used in the manufacture of glass, revenue decreased 8% compared to the first half of 2011.
The reduction in demand for Solar Crucibles led to the trading losses in the Fused Silica product line in the second half of 2011 continuing into 2012. Since mid-2011 customers have, as previously reported, significantly cut production in response to excess global inventories of finished solar panels. In particular, the product line's largest customer in Europe announced in April 2012 the permanent closure of its Norwegian production facilities.
Image: SERT UCERAM Pouring System for automated iron foundries
Although steps were taken during the period to adapt to these market conditions by removing temporary workers, adopting some short-time working arrangements in Europe and by some permanent workforce reductions in the Chinese operations, the Solar Crucible product line incurred trading losses of £6 million in the first half of 2012 compared to a trading profit of £6 million in the first half of 2011.
In July, the Solar Crucible production facility in Moravia in the Czech Republic was closed. This restructuring involved a headcount reduction of approximately 100 and resulted in total costs of £12 million. In October, in view of the continued weakness in the end-market, it was also decided to close one of the two Chinese Solar Crucible production facilities, which resulted in a total restructuring charge of £20 million. Further action was taken in December 2012, with the decision to close the Solar Crucible manufacturing facility in Poland, resulting in a restructuring charge of £9 million.
Subsequent to the year-end, the Board decided to close its remaining Solar Crucible manufacturing operations. The impairment of the Group's remaining Solar Crucible assets which this decision brought about was reported in 2012 as an additional exceptional restructuring charge of £5 million.